Russia must ‘feel the pain of this war’: Polish PM in Helsinki

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki visited Helsinki to meet with his Finnish counterpart, Sanna Marin. The two leaders discussed economic matters, but much of their conversation’s focus was on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and how to counteract it.

Funeral of the second victim of the missile incident in Przewodów

The funeral of the second victim of the Tuesday missile incident in Przewodów in eastern Poland took place in the local cemetery on Sunday,...

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PM Marin opened the press conference by expressing solidarity with Poland in connection with the tragic death of two Polish citizens killed on Tuesday in a missile incident in Przewodów. Earlier on the day, one of the victims was laid to rest, and the Finnish PM expressed her condolences to the families and the Polish people.

Speaking of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Ms Marin reiterated the Polish and NATO position on the causes of the tragedy, saying that if it were not for Russia’s massive missile attacks, the tragedy would not have occurred.

“We must be very clear, [if not for Russia] also innocent Polish civilians would not have died,” said the Finnish Prime Minister.

“We need to do everything we can so that Ukraine prevails,” said Ms Marin, adding that “Poland is doing, once again, more than its part.” As she said, Poland is not only helping refugees but “also helping others to help Ukraine”.

“Finland does its part too,” said PM Marin, speaking about the decision made this week to deliver the tenth package of military equipment to Ukraine, which brought Finnish help to the beleaguered Ukrainians to a total of EUR 55 mln. She also assured that “more will come”, and that Finland will do “whatever it takes”.

“Russia thinks it can violate international law with total impunity, without any concerns about human suffering,” said PM Marin. “We must find ways to force Russia to pay for the damages it has caused. The atrocities and crimes committed by Russia will not go unpunished.”

President Duda signs Sweden and Finland's accession to NATO

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Another topic discussed by Prime Ministers Morawiecki and Marin was the matter of accession of Finland to the NATO alliance. The Finnish leader thanked for the support Poland gave to the two Nordic countries. “Poland has shown leadership” in its advocating for the expansion of the alliance, said Ms Marin, adding that both countries have common interests in foreign policy and many other areas

‘We must hit Russia harder than it might expect’

“First of all, I have to emphasise that our countries may lie on opposite sides of the Baltic Sea but we speak with one voice when it comes to geopolitical threats in particular what is happening in Russia, in Ukraine,” said Polish Prime Minister Morawiecki.

Mr Morawiecki said that that is because both Poland in Finland are “frontline states against Russia”, and that it is “a challenge that cannot be met alone”.

The Polish Prime Minister also referred to the massive missile attack Russia unleashed on Ukraine.

“As a result, two Polish citizens were killed,” said the Polish PM, and although the likeliest scenario is that the missile that crossed into Polish airspace was fired by the Ukrainian air defence in an attempt to intercept a Russian missile that was set to strike a target in Ukraine, Mr Morawiecki again stressed that Russia is ultimately to blame for the tragedy.

“Russia bears full responsibility for this tragic event,” said Mr Morawiecki. “Russia is testing our determination, but we do not give in to their threats, we do not give in to provocation. We stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine.”

“Special times call for special actions. When dozens of missiles hit Ukraine, we must hit Russia harder, than it might expect,” was PM Morawiecki’s call for a tougher stance against the Russian threat.

To that end, the Polish leader said that an option that must be explored is the confiscation of Russian assets, both those belonging to the Russian Federation, as well as the Russian oligarchs.

“They have to feel the pain of this war,” said Mr Morawiecki.

For now, Russian assets have only been frozen, and as PM Morawiecki said, their value may increase over time. Therefore, instead of being eventually returned to the Russians, “they must be used to rebuild Ukraine”.

As Mr Morawiecki said, “today it is the whole world that is paying for Russian aggression, but it must be Russia that pays for its aggression.” He called on further sanctions against Russia, which he called an effective measure, albeit one that also affects the economies of the countries that impose them. He, therefore, stressed the need to explain to the people living in the affected countries how the war affects inflation, energy prices etc. He assured that he and PM Marin “speak in one voice” on the subject.

‘David and Goliath’

“The Ukrainian army is facing a formidable enemy alone, and Ukrainians must be constantly aware that they have Europe’s massive support behind them,” said Mr Morawiecki, comparing the struggle to a fight between a Ukrainian David and a Russian Goliath, and stressing that Ukraine is not only defending itself.

“Ukraine is fighting for our freedom, security, and prosperity in the future,” he said.

As the Polish leader stressed, Poland has for some time tried to alarm the international society about the threat posed by Russia, citing the 2008 invasion of Georgia and the 2014 annexation of Crimea as red flags ignored by most, while Poland was aware that they were “a beginning of a new era”.

Similarly, Mr Morawiecki said that the Polish government has long had no doubt that for Russia its energy supplies were as much of a weapon as tanks, as were the hybrid attacks on the Polish border with Belarus the previous year when, on the Kremlin’s order, the Belarusian regime weaponised migrants to cause an engineered migrant crisis. That is why Poland has decided to build a wall on the border with Belarus, and that is why it is now building one on a border with Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave.

He also stressed the need for a united front on all levels. As he said, when a country’s society and politicians are united, gives that society great strength. But the principle of strength in unity applies to the international community as well.

“NATO is the most powerful alliance in history,” said PM Morawiecki, “but its strength rests on the strength and solidarity of all the states. This is why Finland and Sweden must join [NATO] quickly.”

The necessity to weaken the Russian bear

“The Russian bear was stopped by the Ukrainians, but we need to weaken this bear so it cannot lift its paw,” he said. To that end, Mr Morawiecki stressed the need to quickly deploy more sanctions against Russia and support for Ukraine, as according to him “time is not our ally”.

“Russia wants winter on its side. But there is a country in modern history that knew how to use winter against Russia, and this was Finland some decades ago,” said the Polish Prime Minister referring to the failed Soviet invasion of the country in late 1939 and early 1940, when the Finns managed to keep the invaders at bay for long enough to retain their independence. “The Finns understand the eastern threat much better than western countries, and I believe they know how to unite against it,” added PM Morawiecki.

Mr Morawiecki thanked his Finnish counterpart for its readiness to join “in the fight for Europe’s security and future against Russian threats and cruelty,” which he believes is “only possible when united and focused on key geopolitical risk and dangers.”

“Together we are stronger, and together we are safer, and together we can achieve more,” concluded the Polish Prime Minister.